Invasive plants nipped in the bud

News release | 11-Sep-2020

Biosecurity Queensland has added six more high-risk invasive plant species to a list of plant species that have been eradicated from Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland General Manager Invasive Plants and Animals Dr John Robertson said the plant species were major pests overseas and had been targeted for early detection and removal in Queensland since the mid-1990s.

“Nipping grey willow, white willow, yellow fever tree, grey-haired acacia, thorn tree Acacia nigrescens and cactus Opuntia santarita in the bud is a great outcome that helps protect millions of hectares of grazing land from potentially invasive plants,” Mr Robertson said.

“Invasive plants are a major threat to native pastures, costing the grazing industry tens of millions in lost production every year and potentially replacing productive pasture plants with unproductive, unpalatable weeds.

“Biosecurity Queensland has worked in close partnership with local governments and other agencies to prevent the establishment of these species and this very important work means 27 plant species that have now been eradicated from the state.”

Mr Robertson said all six high-risk weed species were detected in, or near gardens, before they had a chance to spread. 

“Most of Queensland’s worst weeds, including prickly pear cactus and lantana, are escaped garden plants,” Mr Robertson said.

“Early detection and eradication of high-risk weed species is vital to preventing the damage they could cause as their seeds are easily spread either by birds, wind or runoff water.

“Aside from the impact to agricultural lands, invasive plants can also severely damage native bushland, replacing native plants and modifying fire regimes.”

Mr Robertson said early detection was crucial in the war against weeds.

“The Queensland Weedspotters’ Network, co-funded by Biosecurity Queensland, the Queensland Herbarium and local governments, now has an 1800-strong army of trained volunteers searching for potentially invasive plants,” Mr Robertson said.

“Weedspotters employ a mix of traditional and innovative surveillance techniques to help detect weeds much earlier than previously, which improves the chances of eradication.

“Eradicating invasive species is a long-term project requiring many years of continued vigilance following the initial detection to destroy remaining plants and deplete the soil seed-bank, but the results are worth it.”

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Media contact: DAF Media, media@daf.qld.gov.au